Wire rope has been used for close to two centuries, and its invention revolutionized the world of construction and transportation. This durable and flexible rope has a fascinating history, and it has evolved over time to become one of the most essential components in modern construction and architecture.
Steel wire rope was first invented in the 1830s by Wilhelm Albert, a German mining engineer. He recognized the need for a strong and durable rope that could handle the heavy loads required in mining and construction. Albert created a rope made of wrought iron wires twisted around a hemp core, which was much stronger than traditional hemp ropes.
However, the first wire rope was not perfect, as the hemp core made it susceptible to rot and decay. To solve this problem, engineers began experimenting with different materials for the core, including wire strands and fiber. Eventually, the introduction of stainless steel as a material for the wires made wire ropes more durable and long-lasting.
Stainless steel was first discovered in the early 1900s by Harry Brearley, a British metallurgist. He was trying to develop a new type of steel that was more resistant to corrosion, and he discovered that adding chromium to steel made it highly resistant to rust and corrosion. This led to the development of the first stainless steel wire rope.
Stainless steel wire rope became prevalent in the early 1960’s as standing rigging on yachts. Yacht racing, as with all types of racing, was continually pushing the boundaries to use better, stronger, lighter, and more durable materials, and this led to the use of Stainless-Steel wire rope as mast rigging in place of the galvanized wire rope which was prone to corrosion and required frequent dressing with rust preventatives. Another benefit of Stainless-Steel wire rope, other than the corrosion resistance is that it has a higher modulus of elasticity and so overcomes the problems associated with stretch which existed with earlier galvanized constructions.
Changes in construction of Stainless-Steel wire rope created stays with less stretch, and so there was a change from the 7x19 construction to 7x7 construction to 1x19 construction and finally Dyform wire which is a very low stretch stainless steel wire rope which has had the constructional stretch removed by drawing the 1x19 wire rope through a set of dies.
Below: Graphic of Wire rope construction:
Below: Graphic of Dyform cable:
The early steel wire ropes were used in a variety of applications, including maritime and shipping industries, where they were used to secure cargo and tow ships. They were also used in construction, where they were used to support structures like bridges and towers.
Today, wire ropes are used in a wide range of applications, from aerospace and transportation to mining and construction. Stainless Steel wire rope is used in a lot of these applications where durability and the aesthetic of the stainless steel is appreciated, and where budget allows. Stainless steel wire rope is commonly available up to 18 mm in diameter with the smallest sizes less than 1 mm diameter. Galvanized wire rope is usually used for structures requiring cables greater than 18 mm diameter, such as large suspension bridge projects. Ashton Arch Bridge: Modern state-of-the-art bridge worth R130m officially opened.
Smaller cable sizes are very popular as balustrade cables on decks and balconies and have many architectural applications.
Image of Stainless-steel wire rope:
Stainless Steel wire rope has a long and fascinating history, from its beginnings as plain wire rope, in the 1830s to its modern-day applications in various industries. The use of stainless-steel wires in the ropes has made them highly durable and resistant to corrosion and rust, allowing them to withstand extreme temperatures and heavy loads.
Today, Stainless Steel wire ropes are essential components in modern machinery, and they play a vital role in a wide range of industries. They are a testament to the ingenuity and innovation of early engineers who recognized the need for a stronger and more durable rope.